Vietnamese Spring Rolls

It’s only Monday, and I have eaten at least a six Vietnamese Spring Rolls or Summer Rolls as I like to call them. Fresh, healthy and easy to make…what else could you ask for? Well, maybe summer-like weather.

Your shopping list items are in bold.

Here’s the deal…

  1. Cut your veggies into thin strips or large matchsticks and marinate them for about an hour in a blend of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. You want the marinade on the sweet side. Your vegetable choices include: carrots, cucumbers, radish and daikon, but always feel free to experiment. These are the same veggies they use in the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich; I just may eat 6 of those next week.
  2. Put a bundle of beanthread (cellophane) noodles in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then drain and keep in cold water until ready.
  3. Cook your protein! I’ve used shrimp for this recipe so I simply boil the shrimp in their shells, remove them as soon they start to curl and chill them in an ice bath. You can peel them as soon as you can handle them.
  4. I also set aside four small bowls on my counter, one with cilantro leaves, one with mint leaves one with shredded Boston lettuce leaves and one with strips of scallions.


Now we’re ready to make the summer rolls.

Lay a clean damp kitchen towel down on your cutting board or counter.
Dip one Vietnamese rice paper wrapper into hot water for 10 seconds, lift out of the water and lay it on the kitchen towel. You now have your canvas for all those goodies in front of you. This will take a bit of practice; just be gentle when handling the rice paper.

On the side of the wrapper closest to you, put a few shreds of lettuce, noodles, shrimp, some veggies, herbs and few pieces of scallions. Now roll it up like a cigar. You can leave the ends open with some of the healthy goodness popping out or you can close the ends as you would for a burrito. Repeat with all the ingredients.
To serve, cut them in half and serve them with either the Nuoc Cham dipping sauce or the Hoisin-Peanut dipping sauce.


The summer rolls can be made hours ahead, making them perfect for parties. Cover with a clean damp kitchen towel, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Spray them with a little water just before serving.


Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed
½ hot red chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
juice from 1 wedge of lime
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 ½ tablespoons of water

Grind the garlic, chile and sugar to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and water. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash hot pepper sauce or Sriracha

Combine first three ingredients until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a serving bowl.

NB: Rice paper wrappers are sold in packages of 50 or 100. I use the brand with the red rose on the package. Seal leftovers in the same package wrapped in plastic.


Bruschetta & Crostino

       defines Crostino as:

  1. A piece of thin crisp toast.
  2. An hors d’oeuvre made with a crostino and any of various toppings.

Yes, that’s right, and the word Crostino comes from the Italian crosta meaning crust, referring to the bread it is made from.

Isn’t that called a Brooshetta?

Bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare, which means to burn, or roast over coals, referring to the way the bread is toasted. The correct pronunciation of this word is BRU-SKETTA, and yes, it is very much like a crostino, though bruschetta toasts are always rubbed with a clove of garlic while still warm, and usually topped with the classic fresh tomato, basil and olive oil mixture.

Today, crostino and bruschetta are almost interchangeable; the shape or size of the crust and the endless choice of toppings is really up to you. If you really insist on giving them a name…just call them delicious!


Dip, spread and all-around great snack; with only a whisper of garlic, this hummus is smooth, creamy and flavorful and it serves 6 – 8 people.

1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water

  1. Place everything except water and olive oil in a food processor and begin to process.; add water and olive oil as needed to make a smooth purée.
  2. Taste and add more garlic, cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed. Serve drizzled with more olive oil and sprinkle with extra cumin.
  3. Serve with pita chips, pita bread, crackers or raw veggies.


Note:  The Italian chef in me will sometimes add, mascarpone or ricotta cheese to the hummus. A few tablespoons of cream will also work some magic. Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


“Beans on Branches”

Edamame are green soybeans which are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, and many of the B vitamins, with a 1/2 cup serving containing about 11g of protein.

I like to boil the edamame in salted water then serve them sprinkled with additional coarse salt. The edamame in pods are eaten by holding the tip of the pod and squeezing the beans out of the pods with your fingers while simultaneously pulling them into your mouth with some of the salt. The pods are not edible, only the beans are eaten.

This is the perfect snack, and as is customary in Japan, goes quite well with a cold beer.